The centrality of anti-semitism in the Islamic State's ideology and its connection to anti-shiism

Daniel Rickenbacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The Islamic State (ISIS) has repeatedly targeted Jews in terrorist attacks and incited against Jews in its propaganda. Anti-Semitism and the belief that Jews are engaged in a war against Islam has been central to Islamist thought since its inception. Islamist anti-Semitism exposes the influence of both Western conspiracy theories and Islamic traditions. This article studies the anti-Semitic themes propagated by ISIS and investigates their ideological foundations. It bases itself on an analysis of articles published in Dabiq, ISIS’ English language online magazine in the period 2014–2016. The analysis shows that ISIS’ relationship with Western-inspired anti-Semitic conspiracy theories is inconsistent, vacillating between rejection and acceptance. ISIS holds an apocalyptic, anti-Semitic worldview, which claims that the Shia denomination is a Jewish invention to sow disunity among Muslims, and that Shia and Jews are working together to destroy Islam. ISIS’ anti-Semitism and anti-Shiism are thus inherently connected. It is vital to correctly assess the anti-Semitic ideological foundations of contemporary Islamism and Jihadism to best understand the movement. Learning about this will help lawmakers, scholars and practitioners develop strategies to deal with these movements and counter their message.

Original languageEnglish
Article number483
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Anti-Semitism
  • Anti-Shiism
  • Genocide
  • ISIS
  • Islamic State
  • Islamism
  • Radicalization
  • Terrorism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


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